Odds are on The Help as the summer’s late breaking hit.
The movie, based on the best-selling novel by the same name, has been getting a ton of press coverage ahead of yesterday’s release.
Set in Mississippi during the tail end of the Jim Crow era the story follows a group of African American women working as domestics in white households and the book they write about their experience with the help of a white woman newly returned from college who wants to be a writer.
The book was a huge bestseller and the movie has all the signs of a hit in the making. Except it is drawing fire from significant corners who are criticising the glowing brush strokes with which the era is painted.
In the NYT Nelson George writes:
A larger problem for anyone interested in the true social drama of the era is that the film’s candy-coated cinematography and anachronistic super-skinny Southern belles are part of a strategy that buffers viewers from the era’s violence. The maids who tell Skeeter their stories speak of the risks they are taking, but the sense of physical danger that hovered over the civil rights movement is mostly absent.
But boy is that tame in comparison to Melissa Harris-Perry, a regular MSNBC contributor who filled in for Rachel Maddow last month to great acclaim. Harris-Perry unleashed on Twitter after viewing the movie yesterday expressing great disappointment that the First Lady was screening the movie at the White House.
She appeared on Lawrence O’Donnell last night to elaborate, and further bemoaned that in 2011 actress Viola Davis (who is supposed to be amazing in this film) was reduced to playing a maid.
“The problem is that it is so a-historical as to be inaccurate. I get the problem people want to feel good so we reduce racism that if you bake a problematic pie, somehow you can get the one white woman back. But look, the issues that faced African-American women were not real housewives of Jackson, Mississippi, mean girls behaviour, it was rape, it was lynching.”
Video of the segment below.